Indian women fought hard to eke out a 2-2 draw against Japan in the fourth women’s Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament, here on Saturday.
The game also marked a personal milestone for Vandana Katariya, who was playing in her 150th international match. Katariya, from Uttar Pradesh, made her India debut in 2006 when she played for the junior squad and subsequently earned a berth in the senior team in 2010.
Both teams were slow to move off the blocks as the Indian women pressed hard to create opportunities in the first half of the match. Japan had its chances in the first half with a penalty corner in the very first minute, but the Indian defence was up to the task to deny it a lead.
At halftime, India and Japan were locked in a stalemate with both the teams unable to break the other’s defence. The break proved useful for India as it opened its account in the match, minutes into the third quarter, Deepika scoring from an open play to give it the lead.
From here on, India looked to take control of the third quarter, controlling the midfield and holding possession.
India’s second goal came in the 42nd minute when Deep Grace Ekka successfully converted a penalty corner. India tried a different variation with the short corner after two failed attempts earlier in the game, and Grace’s flick was inch-perfect to the left corner of the Japanese goal-keeper.
Japan retaliated in the final quarter of the match, scoring two goals in quick succession: Miki Kozuka scored in the 47th minute, followed by Yukari Mano’s equaliser in the 50th minute set the stage for an exciting finish.
The final few moments witnessed some intense action with Japan charging in to clinch the winner.
Japan earned three penalty corner in the last five minutes of the match but the Indian defence stood tall to thwart any danger to their citadel.
India will next play Korea on Sunday.
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